Updated April 2021
In this article you will learn 5 steps for developing a mid career plan.
Career planning may be something you encounter as part of your annual review process when you’re asked to share what sort of roles you’re aiming to work at next and where you see yourselves in the next 2-5 years. It’s important you consider your desired next steps when you are in these conversations or when you are thinking about your next career move.
Why Career Planning is Important
Having a career plan is important as it can help you manage the direction you want your career to take, the job skills and knowledge you will need to develop, and how you can get them. Career Planning is not just a skill for people in the early stages of their career. In fact, career planning is just as important (if not more so, if personal fulfilment and reaching your full potential is a goal) as you move into your 30s and 40s are considering more senior roles or going out on your on to start a business. I have adapted the 5 step framework suggested on the Victorian Government’s Career Vic site to help you head in the right direction.
Step 1: Undertake some Self Assessment to Help Your Career Plan
Do you know who you are and what’s important to you? As we get older we can lose our sense of self. Our circumstances change, we may experience some trauma or unexpected turns in the road and some of us may become parents. These life events can change our perspective and priorities, so it’s good to take stock and undertake some self-assessment as the basis of your career planning efforts.
To assess your skills, knowledge and personal qualities, use these exercises:
- what are my skills?
- what are my job requirements?
- what are my short- and long-term goals?
One of the first workshops I ran was titled the ‘Who Am I? Workshop’, a 4 hour workshop that walked people through a series of powerful reflection exercises. This enabled the individuals who attended to invest time in re-learning what was important for them and how this translated to their professional and personal life. A key tool I used as part of this was an exercise adapted from Jack Collis’ book, Work Smarter, Not Harder.
Step 2: Develop a Criteria for your Next Role or Career Move
In this step you need to develop a criteria for your next career move. The most difficult, and potentially immobilising, part of developing a career plan is finding out what jobs are likely to suit you best. This is why I recommend you focus on developing a criteria for your next career move. The types of things to consider are your:
- financial objectives (I advise clients to never accept a decrease in salary unless they are gaining significant experience or making a strategic career change)
- technical and transferrable skills you would like to leverage
- environmental preferences (geographic location, size of organisation, interaction with people, indoors or outdoors)
- values and how this relates to where you work (e.g. types of organisations you would or wouldn’t want to work for)
Developing this criteria will then help you better evaluate potential job opportunities you discover through your networks on LinkedIn or advertised roles on popular Australian job search sites such as SEEK Executive ($150K plus jobs), Ethical Jobs and Senior Appointments for the Victorian Government. There is also a Job For Mature workers site.
Step 3: Decide your Career Goals
This step involves making some decisions after reflecting on the information you have gathered. If you are yet to decide on your career goals, or you want to revise them, start by considering your career goals for the next two years.
- What do you want to be doing in two year’s time?
- What about five and ten year’s time?
This kind of thinking helps break down big picture career strategy and planning into manageable pieces. Clearly defined, short statements that reflect your goals will help you have a clear action plan to work towards and build the foundation of your career plan. You can then become more specific which will make your implementation plan easier.
I want to lead an NGO, in the metropolitan Melbourne area, with a team of at least 25 people.
Step 4: Take Action & Implement Your Career Plan
Career Planning Checklist
As you progress through these career planning steps, your ideas might become more specific. As a starting point, here are some useful questions to ask yourself.
When preparing your career strategy action plan, include WHAT you will do and HOW you will do it. Make a list of people whose help you will seek and draw up a time plan of WHEN you will do each action. The timeframe should be at least 12 months, however, a longer period may be appropriate.
Step 5: Review and adjust your Career Plan
Career planning is a great way to seek greater job (and life) satisfaction and live the life you imagined for yourself. By this point in your career you will have experienced the reality that ‘there’s nothing more certain than change’ and so by developing a stronger and clearer career plan, you will be better placed to respond to life’s unexpected changes. I recommend you view your plan as a guide and allow space for adjustments and changes to your approach.
Trust yourself, believe in yourself, seek counsel from those around you and draw on your experiences at work to help you achieve your goals. You will generally find it helpful to revisit your plan each year. Revisiting your plan will help to reinforce and clarify your values, purpose and thinking, and is a very helpful way for your to decide if you need to change your career direction, seek help or advice or put more effort into achieving your goals.